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Fantastic! Indian Railways plans aircraft-like pressurised coaches for world’s highest rail line

The Bilaspur-Manali-Leh rail line will become the highest railway track in the world. The 465-km strategically significant line with a height of 5,360 metres above the sea level, is being built at a cost of Rs 83,360 crore.

Bilaspur-Manali-Leh rail lineBilaspur-Manali-Leh rail line: To ensure that passengers don’t face breathing difficulties on board, Indian Railways is planning to use aircraft-like pressurised coaches in its trains for the Bilaspur-Manali-Leh line that will be built along the India-China border.

The Bilaspur-Manali-Leh rail line will become the highest railway track in the world. The 465-km strategically significant line with a height of 5,360 metres above the sea level, is being built at a cost of Rs 83,360 crore. As the air is very thin at the altitude where planes fly, aircraft cabins are pressurised. Thus, in order to prevent complications, the cabins of many aircraft are adjusted to near sea-level pressure, which makes breathing ease almost the same as at sea level.

Interestingly, the Bilaspur-Manali-Leh rail line will be the first Indian Railways line to have pressurised coaches which at present, are only used in the Quinghay-Tibet railway line in China. Chief Engineer (Construction), Northern Railway, D R Gupta was quoted in a PTI report saying that special pressurised rolling stock in order to deal with lack of oxygen will have to be used in these trains as passengers might feel uneasy due to the high altitude. He informed that these will be like the pressurised cabins, which are used by aircraft to maintain the oxygen levels inside.

The Chief Engineer further elaborated that in the Tibet train, two types of systems are used in order to maintain oxygen levels – one of the systems is through the main controls which handles standard oxygen levels and gets switched on at high altitude areas, while the other system is through oxygen ports that are equipped for each passenger to use when they feel that they lack oxygen. However, it is still not clear if these train coaches will be manufactured in India or will be procured from outside.

Once the project is completed, the railway line will connect many crucial locations between Bilaspur and Leh such as Manali, Sundernagar, Mandi, Koksar, Keylong, Darcha, Upshi and Karu as well as other important towns of Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh en route. According to the first phase of the survey, the project will include as many as 74 tunnels, 124 major bridges and 396 minor bridges. Currently, the final location survey for the railway project is underway.

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